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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 480- Feature article
Oyster reefs reduce eutrophication by enhancing denitrification rates and assimilating nutrients into macrofauna. Image: M. L. Kellogg

Kellogg ML, Cornwell JC, Owens MS, Paynter KT


Denitrification and nutrient assimilation on a restored oyster reef


85% of the world’s oyster reefs have been lost over the past 130 years, and there is increased interest in restoring these habitats and the services they once provided. Kellogg and co-workers studied a restored Crassostrea virginica reef in Chesapeake Bay, USA, and measured rates of denitrification that were among the highest ever recorded in an aquatic ecosystem. Reef restoration also enhanced the standing stock of nutrients assimilated into macrofauna by orders of magnitude. Almost half of these nutrients were bound in the shells of oysters and mussels. Thus, oyster reef restoration may reduce eutrophication to a greater extent than previously estimated.


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